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How CrossCode modernizes classic design: an interview with Felix of Radical Fish

As I mentioned in our Games of the Week last week, CrossCode was a game that took me by surprise. Underneath its classic 16-bit exterior lies a deeply modern hack-and-slash with a shockingly complex story. I reached out to Felix, one of the founders of the team behind CrossCode to see what went into making such a surprisingly deep game.

Let’s start this off with the basics: Who are you and what is CrossCode?

My name is Felix Klein, I'm co-founder of Radical Fish Games. Together with about 12 other people I've been working on CrossCode, a retro-inspired Action-RPG with long dungeons and lots of puzzles and combat.

You had a really open development cycle, why did you take this path?

We originally didn't plan for such an "open" development cycle. Instead we thought we'd finish the game back in 2016. Things just took much longer than expected, which is why we had to delay the game several times. Early Access pretty much allowed us to keep working on the game as it provided us the necessary financial income. Thankfully our player base was patient enough with us and was very supportive whenever we had to further delay the game. In the end we tried to be as transparent as possible and made sure that people are aware that we make consistent progress, by releasing new content and posting updates on recent work on a regular basis.

You also sold the game in an early access state for months before the official release a few weeks ago. How did the community help you build the final version of CrossCode?

It has actually over 3 years of Early Access. Over that long time the community helped us in many ways to improve the game further than we could have done on our own. First of all, they provided important feedback on balancing for enemies, puzzles and quests, allowing us to continuously tweak the difficulty. Then there have been several requests for quality-of-life features that made it into the final game and overall improved the experience even further. Stuff like the "Trading Book", "Botanics Menu" and more.

By your own admission, CrossCode takes a ton of influence from games from the Super Nintendo era. How did you modernize what you learned from the classics?

CrossCode really is influenced by a lot of games that we loved to play over the years. The SNES influence is most apparent, since the graphics style is more or less directly taken vom classics like Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 3, Chrono Trigger and Terranigma. On most other aspects though the inspirations go beyond the SNES area. Combat is inspired by Terrranigma, but also Kingdom Hearts and Devil May Cry. RPG-aspects have been heavily influenced by Xenoblade Chronicles, Story by games like Xenogears and others. In the end we really didn't try to make a very authentic SNES game. We just used the graphics style of that generation and otherwise just tried to make a good and somewhat modern RPG.

It’s hard to catch people’s attention now, what do you want players to know about CrossCode?

CrossCode is an overly ambitious game that we somehow managed to finish after almost 7 years of development. And now it's a really long game, with a play time of around 30-100 hours.

It's has a massive amount of content, a large world to explore, lots of quests and challenges. For anyone who likes Action-RPG and is also fine with puzzle-gameplay like in Zelda, we think it might be worthwhile to have a look.

For anyone who isn't sure, there is a free demo!

This interview has been edited for clarity.

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Nice article. I kind've wished you would've written about the title more though, haha. I clicked on this expecting a review of how the game modernizes itself and I got.. an interview with the developer about his dev experience. :( 

But it was very well written!

Mentioned in this post

A retro-inspired 2D Action-RPG set in the distant future
Role Playing